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Evidence of meeting #36 for Health in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was market.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jim Keon  President, Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association
Russell Williams  President, Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx & D)
David Johnston  President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Association for Pharmacy Distribution Management
Kathleen Boyle  Vice-President, Services, HealthPRO Procurement Services Inc.
Michel Robidoux  President, Sandoz Canada, Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association
Mark Ferdinand  Senior Director, Health and Economic Policy, Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx & D)
Michael Blanchard  Clinical Director, Pharmacy Services, HealthPRO Procurement Services Inc.
Jeremy Desai  President and Chief Operating Officer, Apotex Inc., Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

So you're saying that you would like to be regulated.

10:30 a.m.

President, Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx & D)

Russell Williams

You're talking about purchasing here.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joy Smith

Okay. Thank you so much.

10:30 a.m.

President, Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx & D)

Russell Williams

We're not talking about regulation.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joy Smith

We'll now go to Dr. Leitch and Ms. Block.

Dr. Leitch.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Thank you very much.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joy Smith

You're sharing your time with Ms. Block?

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Yes.

I want to go back to one of the previous comments made by the representative from Sandoz.

Quickly, if you knew, whether it be based on market research, or I guess in the case of many firms.... Many firms do risk analysis, anticipating what problems will be down the road. I know in the OR where I worked we always thought about the worst-case scenario. What would be that worst-case scenario and how would we deal with it? Even in a school, we do fire drills so little kids can make sure they get out the door when there's a fire. We don't expect one ever; we don't ever want one, but it's a worst-case scenario. So we do that risk analysis and we prepare for that worst-case scenario. I would anticipate, having worked as a professor at the Ivey School of Business in this particular area, knowing something about pharmacies and the pharmaceutical industry, that other firms have done that worst-case scenario risk assessment.

I want to ask you why you did not take that step before, of being able to be prepared? You said now you've gone out internationally and you found those medications so that Canadian patients can be taken care of. Why didn't you do that before? Why weren't you prepared?

10:30 a.m.

President, Sandoz Canada, Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association

Michel Robidoux

Sandoz has been manufacturing products, key medicine, for the last 30 years. It is the first time that our company in Boucherville received a warning letter.

The way the system works in regard to...each of our applications for a new product is linked with one manufacturing site. This is the way it is today. This is definitely a big lesson learned for us, and I think now we have the opportunity in the future, for the same product, to provide that key medicine, either produced at plant A, which is Boucherville, or plant B. I think this is definitely a big lesson learned for industry and for Sandoz. That's why we have rapidly identified alternate sourcing, to be able to go to HealthPRO in the future and say, this is a key medicine and you can source it from Sandoz, either from plant A or plant B.

There's no doubt that the current situation is really making us think differently about the way we source products. In some cases, we are the sole provider.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joy Smith

Ms. Block, you're sharing your time, so you'll have to go now.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

I don't want to leave out the Canadian Association for Pharmacy Distribution Management. I want to make sure that we hear from you today.

Your organization also signed the letter to Minister Aglukkaq, back in September, committing to do a better job at sharing information about drug shortages. I'm wondering if you would like to share with us, in the brief time that you have, what your association is doing to honour that commitment.

10:30 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Association for Pharmacy Distribution Management

David Johnston

Sure. We're very much a part of the working group that everyone has spoken of here, providing our expertise and knowledge. The important thing to note is that with pharmaceutical wholesalers, we're responsible for the distribution of available product. We don't have the access to root causes of a shortage or to the situations that may occur with some manufacturer or another.

What we do is become a part of the allocation process so that if there are restricted amounts of a product, we make sure it is evenly and fairly distributed, based on historical usage patterns, to the appropriate areas within the marketplace. Our role within drug shortages is to help facilitate the distribution of available products and to help that system make sure the vital medications get to the right areas of the country.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joy Smith

Thirty seconds.

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Kelly Block Conservative Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Okay. I just want to follow up. You said you have no influence over the factors that create a shortage, but do you have any advice to companies? Being that you're a distributor, what would you tell them in terms of doing a better job alerting the public when there is a shortage?

10:30 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Association for Pharmacy Distribution Management

David Johnston

Well, I think it's what the working group and people are focusing in on, which is making sure that when information is available, it gets posted through the website or other means possible. We fully support the process that's in place now.

As we mentioned, the working group is working on these sites. They're at iteration one or two, and they are certainly going to be developed further to be more robust and effective for the distribution of that knowledge. We absolutely support that process.

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Joy Smith

Thank you so much.

Now we'll go to Mr. Hsu.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Thank you, Chair.

I want to start out with a really quick question to every individual. What was the earliest date that you or your organization came to Parliament Hill to talk to MPs about the drug shortage?

Mr. Johnston—and we'll just go around—could you give me a quick approximate date? When was the first time you ever came here to talk to MPs about the drug shortage?

10:35 a.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Association for Pharmacy Distribution Management

David Johnston

To talk to MPs? I don't believe we have spoken to MPs. As an association, we've been working through the working group.

We have regular interaction with Health Canada and the people within that part of the government, certainly in the development of regulations and those elements that impact our business, but as an association we have not approached MPs.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Could we briefly go around to each of the organizations to find the earliest date that you talked to members of Parliament about a drug shortage?

10:35 a.m.

Senior Director, Health and Economic Policy, Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx & D)

Mark Ferdinand

My recollection personally is that it was last fall sometime, I believe—late fall.

10:35 a.m.

President, Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association

Jim Keon

I think the issue of drug shortages has been in the media and has been known for some time. Somebody made reference to surveys that pharmacists have done. We've been addressing this, among other issues, with MPs for quite some time.

The other point I would make is that we also address this very regularly with the provinces when we talk to them. Some provinces have talked about going to sole sourcing and tendering for a much broader range of products that they purchase and reimburse for retail. Again, I think some of the lessons we've learned from this current situation would be relevant there.

10:35 a.m.

President, Sandoz Canada, Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association

Michel Robidoux

We've been talking via the industry in regard to shortages, and obviously most recently related to the warning letter.

10:35 a.m.

Vice-President, Services, HealthPRO Procurement Services Inc.

Kathleen Boyle

We haven't been speaking to MPs, but we have certainly been talking to our professional associations about drug shortages since 2002.

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Okay. Given all the answers I've heard—and I'm inspired a little bit by the question from Ms. Leitch about risk assessments and whether companies have done risk assessments—do you think the government has been doing a proper risk assessment of the overall drug supply for Canadians?

10:35 a.m.

Vice-President, Services, HealthPRO Procurement Services Inc.

Kathleen Boyle

I would like to make a comment. If we're talking about risk assessment, I don't think we should be looking at procurement strategies to be the one solution for risk assessment. If you start to introduce a variety of products into hospitals that have very specialized health care delivery schemes, introducing multiple products will introduce risks into those sites as well. A sole source is in fact the safest source strategy for health care delivery professionals within hospitals.